There is a clear cut relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies indicate that there is a two to three fold increase in the incidence of heart disease in patients with diabetes as compared to those without diabetes.
In addition, woman with diabetes have an even greater risk of cardiovascular disease as those compared to the same age that do not have diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women with diabetes.
Diabetes alone is now believed to be the strongest risk factor for heart disease, although it is not likely that elevated blood glucose levels alone cause heart disease. Other factors that contribute to heart disease in diabetics are high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and tobacco use. More than 90 percent of diabetics have one or more of these additional risk factors.
The increase risk for heart disease often begins many years before diabetes is even diagnosed. Research indicates that there are more than 60 million adults in the United States currently that are at an increase risk for developing diabetes.
The best way to prevent or delay the development of cardiovascular disease is to prevent diabetes. Recent studies have shown that a modest reduction in weight and a 30 minute exercise routine five days a week can reduce the development of diabetes.
Weight control and smoking cessation are two important measures that have a direct impact on preventing heart disease.
Studies have shown that reducing the LDL cholesterol levels, also known as bad cholesterol, and controlling blood pressure can prevent poor cardiovascular outcomes by as much as half. The current LDL goal in adults with diabetes is less than 100mg/dl, in those that already have heart disease the LDL goal is less than 70mg/dl.
The blood pressure goal in patients with diabetes is less than 130/80. It is not uncommon to require two or more medications to reach these specific blood pressure levels, your specific therapy will be decided between you and your healthcare provider.
In most cases diabetics will require a statin (cholesterol medication) to lower the cholesterol levels to the desired levels. In addition to good blood pressure and cholesterol control it is important to have good control of blood glucose levels. Depending on your healthcare provider they may recommend an A1C level of between 6.5-7.0.
Despite the research it is estimated that less than 30 percent of those with diabetes have reached the blood pressure and cholesterol goals and even a larger amount have an A1C of less than 6.5 percent.
A major factor in not reaching these goals is a lack of communication between the patient and healthcare provider.
If you are not able to afford your medications, there are many programs they can direct you to for assistance in obtaining your medications. If you cannot tolerate a medication let your provider know rather than simply quitting the medication. Communication is the key to a healthier outcome.